5 Comedy Albums I Love
Doug Stanhope – Beer Hall Putsch
Doug Stanhope holds the title when it comes to poignant, relentless, non-apologetic, in-your-face humor. His ability to thrash through topics with his blunt opinions is second-to-none. One of my favorite things in regards to his comedy is the sheer quantity of it. Not only do I thoroughly appreciate his stand-up, I also greatly appreciate the fact that he continues to deliver fresh material every year or every other year. Beer Hall Putsch is his latest comedic assault that encompasses bits that other comics wouldn’t go near. Listen to his tale of truth regarding his mom’s suicide and then tell me that you’re afraid to try one of the new bits that you thought of. This is one-hour of non-stop genius writing that only Stanhope could pull off. This album is what stand-up should be!
Richard Jeni – Greatest Bits
Richard Jeni is a rare find in the comedy world. He is a comedian that every comic knows, but yet, you ask the average person who he is and unfortunately you’re left going “Jim Carrey’s friend in the movie The Mask”. For a man who had 4 TV specials between Showtime and HBO, he never became the household name that he deserved to be. Richard Jeni had natural comedic timing and knew how to milk a bit for everything it was worth. In his Greatest Bits CD you get to experience Richard Jeni delivering all of the fan favorites. This CD is special for me as I remember listening to this with my family growing up and just laughing together – generations spanning from me as a kid, to my parents, to my grandparents – we all laughed and then really got a treat when we got to see him live in 2003.
Bill Burr – Let It Go
Right out of the gate on this CD Bill Burr goes into a rant on why he’s “pro swine-flu” and the laughs just don’t stop. I’ve been a ranting comedian for years and then I watched Bill Burr and it made me wonder why I even try. As comedians we like to hold our pride in high regard and don’t always give credit where credit is due – but I want to go on record saying that every time that I heard Bill Burr go into his bit about “Being a Mother”, I am nothing but jealous that I didn’t think of it or anything like it. To be able to take a topic like that and beat it down to the point of saying (I’m paraphrasing) “women give being a mother too much credit” and have the ladies in the audience cracking up, takes an extreme talent…and that’s what Bill Burr is, an extreme talent.
Dennis Miller – Black & White
Ok, so I know this isn’t on a CD – but I did own it on VHS which ought to count. This is my absolute favorite material that Dennis Miller has come out with. It took me a long time when I was younger to catch on to Dennis’ cadence with his delivery, but once I got it, I got it big time. Anytime that I quote Dennis Miller, I find myself defaulting to his opening bit here regarding impressionists that always paint Jack Nicholson into mundane situations: “can you imagine if Jack Nicholson were a produce clerk at a grocery store?” ‘No, f*ck you, YOU I can imagine as a produce clerk at a grocery store, now let’s not take the world’s highest paid actor and have him spritzing a back of turnips for $2.95 an hour’. Dennis has been dubbed “The King of Pop…Culture” and this release is proof on why. I watch this knowing Dennis was only a few years older than I am now when he recorded it and he was light years ahead of me as a comedian.
George Carlin – It’s Bad For Ya
George Carlin is my favorite comedian of all time (with Doug Stanhope in at a close second) and I really enjoyed this final album of his. I run into Carlin fans that tell me how they loved his early stuff but he got too angry for them as time went on. I ended up on the opposite end here; the more angry and cynical that Carlin got, the more I liked him. This CD is a 70-year old comedian exploring the thought process that only somebody with that much life experience could produce. I love listening to the bit about questioning societal norms such as: taking off your hat. The casual listener hears that and thinks that Carlin is bitching about a hat…but if you listen, it’s just about removing the “control” in this country and not conforming to stuff that doesn’t make sense just because people before you and around you accept it. Carlin is a comedic prophet (a term I’m sure he’d hate), he really teaches as much as he entertains. Carlin’s comedic method is what got me into comedy, what has kept me in comedy, and what I will always strive for. Question everything, accept nothing, and remember “It’s all bad for ya”.
Have fun and enjoy the ride!